NEWCASTLE KNIGHTS v PENRITH PANTHERS
Round 4, 2015 NSW Cup
Date: Saturday March 28
Kick off: 12.40pm
Venue: Hunter Stadium
Last time they met:
The Knights last met the Panthers in last year’s NSW Cup Grand Final at Allianz Stadium, which they lost 48-12.
1. Nathan Ross 2. Jake Mamo, 3. Chanel Mata’utia, 4. Pat Mata’utia, 5. Honeti Tuha, 6. Carlos Tuimavave, 7. Danny Kerr, 8. Sam Mataora, 9. Chad Redman, 10. Michael Steele, 11. Clint Newton (c), 12. Marvin Filipo, 13. Joseph Tapine. Interchange: 14. James De Saxe, 15. James Taylor, 16. Brett Jarrett, 17. Lachlan Fitzgibbon, 19. Tuiala Togitasi, 20. Jake Finn.
1. Waqa Blake, 2. Paul Simona, 3. Robert Jennings, 4. Nu’u Akeripa, 5. Eddie Aiono, 6. Will Smith, 7. Sam Scarlett, 8. Sam Anderson, 9. Apisai Koroisau, 10. Leilani Latu, 11. Tupoiu Sopoaga, 12. Isaah Yeo, 13. Andy Saunders. Interchange: 14. Rodney Coates, 15. Brendan Attwood, 16. Chris Smith, 18. Liam Ayoub.
“It’s a new season and a new roster,” NSW Cup coach Matt Lantry says coming into Saturday’s grand final re-match against the Penrith Panthers.
So the Newcastle Knights are determined to start afresh in their Round 4 clash at Hunter Stadium after losing the big match last year against the Panthers.
“There’s no secret to the fact that we’ve lost plenty of experience in Timana Tahu, Matt Hilder and Michael Dobson,” Lantry said.
“But we have plenty of youth, and through youth you get plenty of enthusiasm.
“We want them to bring that this weekend against probably the benchmark of the competition."
There’s been movement in the NSW Cup line-up with in-form forward Pat Vaivai named on the NRL interchange.
“It certainly leaves a big hole in your footy team, Pat has been pretty good for us over the last two weeks,” he said.
“Pat has been our best by far the last few weeks so it is good he’s been rewarded.
“It just goes to show that if you’re playing well enough in reserve grade when opportunities arise, you’re going to get a crack.
“We have a couple options and Michael Steel will come in to fill his spot."
The team is eager to bounce back from the performance against the Wyong Roos last weekend.
“I think we all understood that wasn’t good enough,” Lantry said.
“We are at home, have all three grades there and we want to contribute to a successful game for the Club."
However it isn't an easy assignment, especially after two from three wins for the visitors.
“The Panthers, they certainly have some class in their outside backs with Robert Jennings and Waqa Blake,” Lantry said.
“They also have a decent forward pack, so of we don’t control our forward pack, it will really damage us through the middle.
“If we can win the battle of the play the ball speed then it will go a long way in helping our control."
It’s all the more reason for the NSW Cup Knights to rely on the dynamic young members of the team who Lantry expects to step up.
“Jake Mamo, Lachlan Fitzgibbon and James Taylor are the young guys we’re looking for plenty of enthusiasm from,” he said.
Our experienced players in Nathan Ross, Marvin Filipo and Clint Newton all add the management of enthusiasm to ensure we get the job done.
Where it will be won:
“For us each week it’s our defensive aspect that really needs to improve. If it does improve, it goes a long way to us winning the footy game," Lantry said.
“We showed that against Newtown in round two when we defended well.
“Early days and there’s always lot’s of improvement with team throughout the early parts of the competition.
“I think if we get our defence right, that will go a long way.”